Students trying to vote in Wisconsin elections may be able to use college ID cards under changes to a bill requiring voters to show identification at the polls proposed by Republicans.

But some Democrats called the changes "meaningless," saying the revised bill still threatens to keep college students from voting, is costly and risks exposing students' privacy.

Earlier drafts of the legislation barred student ID cards from being used at the polls. But the latest version, which will go to a vote before an Assembly committee Tuesday morning, would allow a voter to use an identification card from accredited public or private university or college if it included a photo, date of birth, current address, an expiration date no more than four years away, and a signature.

"It would have to meet the same standard as a driver's license," said state Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau.

Few student IDs now being used in the state meet those standards, Fitzgerald and Democrats said. "That's the problem with student IDs, they're all over the place," Fitzgerald added.

He and other Republicans say the goal of the legislation is to improve the integrity of Wisconsin's election system.

But Democratic lawmakers insist the GOP's goal is to disenfranchise students, seniors and minorities by setting up obstacles at the ballot box, with one calling the revised bill a "sham."

Colleges and universities throughout the state would have to spend a lot of money updating student IDs to include the additional information, said Rep. Kelda Helen Roys, D-Madison. Schools would incur additional costs if they need to produce new identification cards each time a student moved, she said.

The GOP proposal also raises privacy concerns, Roys said, noting that the UW-Madison student ID is also used as a key card for the dormitories. Anyone who found a lost card could have not only the student's address but access to the residence hall where he or she lives.

An Assembly committee held a hearing on the bill last week, and GOP leaders have said they hope for it to pass the Legislature in May.

The bill would also move the state's September primary to the second week in August and block most people from voting along a straight party line ticket.

Capital W: Plug in to Wisconsin politics

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